Nine Sudanese Congress Party activists held during seminar on cholera

Security agents raided a seminar on cholera organised by the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP) in Omdurman on Tuesday, and detained nine party members.

Security agents detained nine members of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP) in Omdurman on Tuesday.

“While holding a seminar in Umbadda about ways to combat the cholera epidemic in the country, security agents stormed the office,” one of the participants told Radio Dabanga. “They took nine of our colleagues to an unknown destination.”

In a press statement yesterday evening, SCP spokesman Mohamed Hassan Arabi reported that Dr Fateh El Sayed, former head of the party’s Central Council; Dr Jalal Mustafa, member of the Political Bureau; Noureldin Salaheldin, head of the SCP Khartoum branch; Mawahib Majzoub, Political Secretary of the Khartoum branch were detained by members of the nationa Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Umbadda on Tuesday afternoon.

Party members Amira El Sheikh, Widad Derwish, Amer Abdallah, Mahmoud Shueib, and Nazar Mohamed Nour were held as well.

“We hold the regime fully responsible for the condition of the detained party members, especially as some of them suffer from health problems. We demand their immediate release,” the statement reads.

“We demand Khartoum to formally declare the cholera epidemic, and combat the disease in a scientifically accountable manner, instead of fighting people and organisations working to prevent the spread of the dieases.”

The SCP further states that “With this [action], the regime set its obligations concerning the health and safety of the people aside, to follow its strategy to counter the epidemic by observing only, while the disease spreads from town to town, and from village to village, leaving a large number of patients dead.”

Watery diarrhoea

Between August 2016 and May 2017, 14,659 people were infected with watery diarrhoea. 292 patients died, according to the Sudanese Minister of Health.

In the past months, many Sudanese medics have criticised the refusal of the authorities to call the disease by its real name and instead continue to refer to it as “watery diarrhoea”.

“We demand Khartoum to formally declare the cholera epidemic, instead of fighting people and organisations working to prevent the spread of the dieases.”

The NISS has repeatedly warned the press in the country not to cross this “red line”. In April, an eastern Sudanese journalist was detained for reporting about cholera. Earlier this month, the Ministry of Health dismissed the director of the Omdurman Emergency Hospital because he reported about cholera patients.

Cholera “seems to be a stigma for the government,” a Sudanese specialist told Radio Dabanga in January. “Yet raising the awareness among communities about preventing cholera is crucial to containing a cholera outbreak.”

The Sudanese Doctors’ Central Committee and various volunteer groups are active by providing information about how to prevent the spread of cholera, supporting medical staff in makeshift isolation wards, and cleaning residential areas.

However, as a doctor told this station earlier this month, “The collapse of the health services in the country requires intervention by international organisations to help eradicating the epidemic, and that can only be done if the government officially declares the cholera outbreak”.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan reported in its latest news bulletin that “The active AWD response has been scaled up through engaging all sectors, civil society and NGOs, including media, with support from World Health Organization, the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the Sudanese Red Crescent Society”.

The organisations are implementing “interventions such as ensuring safe water, early detection, case management, health education and sanitation,” the UN agency said.

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